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The Eastern Caribbean Island State (official: Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis) consists of the two islands of Saint Kitts (official: St. Christopher) and Nevis, which belong to the Leeward Islands, an archipelago of the Lesser Antilles. In the southeast the national territory borders Antigua and Barbuda, in the northwest on the Netherlands Antilles.
Saint Kitts (169 km², 37 km long, up to 8 km wide) is separated from Nevis (93 km²) by a strait about 3 km wide. Both islands are of volcanic origin and characterized by mountains. On St. Kitts, a central mountain range runs from northwest to southeast, cut by deep gorges and reaching up to 1,156 m in Mount Liamuiga (formerly Mount Misery). There is a crater lake in the more than 700 m deep crater. The second highest mountain is Mount Verchilds with 893 m. Sulphur springs indicate persistent volcanism, earthquakes also occur. In the south of St. Kitts there is a peninsula with many bays and white sand beaches, while the sand of the beaches in the north of the island is black.
Nevis lies in the southeast of St. Kitts, where the extinct volcano Nevis rises up to a height of 985 m. The capital Basseterre is located on the island St. Kitts.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is a parliamentary monarchy under the British Commonwealth of Nations based on the 1983 Constitution. Head of state is the British monarch Elisabeth II (since 1952), who is represented on the island by a governor general (since January 2013 Edmund Lawrence). The governor general appoints the prime minister as head of government, who is normally the leader of the strongest party in parliament (Denzil Douglas since July 1995).
The legislative power lies with the Parliament, which consists of a chamber (National Assembly) with 15 seats. Eleven of the deputies are elected by the people for a term of five years (eight from St Kitts, three from Nevis), three are appointed by the Governor General, one member is “ex officio”.
The island state is divided into 14 municipalities. Nevis has its own island parliament (“Nevis Assembly”) and the status of a federal state with the right to later independence.
In the meantime, tourism has developed into the most important economic factor of the island state. The financial sector is also becoming increasingly important. The capital Basseterre is the seat of the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and an Eastern Caribbean Securities Exchange for the eight eastern Caribbean states.
For a long time, sugar cane was cultivated as a monoculture, but rice, jams, fruit and vegetables were added to the range. Cyclones repeatedly lead to severe crop losses and widespread destruction.
The industry is only moderately developed and concentrates on the processing of agricultural products. The loss-making sugar industry was closed down in 2005. In addition, machines, textiles and electrical goods (assembly from prefabricated parts) are manufactured. The USA is the most important trading partner for both exports (agricultural products) and imports.
The road network of both islands covers a total of around 320 km, half of which is paved. The islands are connected by sea and air. Basseterre on St. Kitts is a deep-sea port, and there is an international airport near the capital. Currency is the East Caribbean dollar.